Photographer behind classic Beatles album covers Robert Freeman dies
The man behind the Beatles' iconic look, photographer Robert Freeman has died at the age of 82. Born in 1936, he started his career working for the UK's Sunday Times and is best known for his iconic images of the Beatles.
In an obituary, the Washington Post remarks that the first album cover came about after the band’s manager, Brian Epstein, asked Robert Freeman if he could arrange a photo shoot. Freeman took a series of black and white shots the next day and this image has since gone on to grace many a magazine covers and as well as fan art.
Remarking on that photoshoot, Paul McCartney wrote on the passing of Robert Freeman:
Dear Robert Freeman has passed away. He was one of our favourite photographers during the Beatles years who came up with some of our most iconic album covers. Besides being a great professional he was imaginative and a true original thinker. People often think that the cover shot for Meet The Beatles of our foreheads in half shadow was a carefully arranged studio shot. In fact it was taken quite quickly by Robert in the corridor of a hotel we were staying in where natural light came from the windows at the end of the corridor. I think it took no more than half an hour to accomplish.
Bob also took the Rubber Soul cover; his normal practice was to use a slide projector and project the photos he’d taken onto a piece of white cardboard which was exactly album sized, thus giving us an accurate idea of how the finished product would look. During his viewing session the card which had been propped up on a small table fell backwards giving the photograph a ‘stretched’ look. Instead of simply putting the card upright again we became excited at the idea of this new version of his photograph. He assured us that it was possible to print it this way and because the album was titled Rubber Soul we felt that the image fitted perfectly.
I will miss this wonderful man but will always cherish the fond memories I have of him.
Throughout the rest of their career, Freeman went on to take the photos used on Beatles For Sale, Help!, and Rubber Soul.
Robert Freeman, long time photographer of The Beatles, has passed away - he created some of the most iconic images of the band, featured on the album covers of With The Beatles, A Hard Day's Night, Beatles For Sale, Help! and Rubber Soul. pic.twitter.com/W1upi05JCn— The Beatles (@thebeatles) November 8, 2019
Long will his photos of the band be appreciated and continue to inspire other photographers.
Our thoughts are with his family and friends, along with our appreciation and gratitude for the creative work he produced for the band. pic.twitter.com/nHBAx69leb— The Beatles (@thebeatles) November 8, 2019
For their Help! cover, AFP reports that John Lennon, McCartney, George Harrison and Ringo Starr were meant to spell out the title in flag semaphore. But in the end, Freeman decided to rearrange their arm positions to give the cover a better look.
One-fourth of the Beatles, Ringo Star, also tweeted his condolences to Robert Freeman's family.
God bless Robert Freeman peace and love to all his family— #RingoStarr (@ringostarrmusic) November 8, 2019
Freeman also went on to photograph Andy Warhol and Muhammed Ali.